Ayodele Oti: International Environmental Public Health / Human Ecology

Ayodele Oti

International Environmental Public Health / Human Ecology
B.A. June 2012, Summa cum Laude
Home College:  City College/Macaulay Honors College
Mentors:  Prof. Marina Fernando, International Study, City College and Prof. Jack Caravanos, School of Public Health, Hunter College
Harry S. Truman Scholarship
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
Harriet Brows Scholarship
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
Colin Powell Fellowship
Charles Rangel Scholarship

Ayodele Oti, a CUNY Macaulay Honors College student at City College, gravitated toward CUNY BA when she realized in her sophomore year that the major in International Studies would not meet all her needs.  “My focus is on sustainable development and environmental public health.  This interest evolved after a trip to my father’s homeland – Nigeria – opened my eyes to the affects of air pollution on the population. While economic development will be what is needed to pull people around the world out of poverty, respecting the environment will be key to both the health of the working population and sustained economic growth.”

In Oti’s freshman year, she participated in the Harvard-Kennedy Public Policy and Leadership Conference. The Conference was designed for 48 students from around the U.S. who were interested in careers in public services. Seminars on public speaking, decision-making, resume writing, public policy undergraduate scholarships and graduate programs were presented, along with guest speakers including a former Ambassador and Massachusetts State Representatives.

Oti held a public policy internship through the Rosenberg-Humphrey program at the Rangel Center and spent the summer after freshman year in Washington, DC interning at the Earth Day Network as an international programs intern. She wrote articles for the Earth Day Network blog after attending events in the D.C. area pertaining to environmental issues, as well as outreach materials to get other organizations around the world to participate in the Earth Day 40th anniversary, and she did some general research on environmental issues and movements. In her sophomore year, she took the seminar part of the program learning about the policy cycle in different areas–education, economics, human rights, etc.  At the end, she produced a policy research paper on The Role of the Judicial Branch in EPA Regulatory Policy.

In recommending Oti to CUNY BA, Prof. Barbara Syrrakos, History, City, wrote:  “Ayo was a member of my Honors World Civilization class last year, one of 17 very bright students. She stood out among them.  She is particularly articulate and incisive, and always very well prepared.  I have taught thousands of students here at City College, including the elite Sophie Davis Program biomedical students each semester, and I would place Ayo in the top 1-3% in terms of discipline and ‘smartness.’”  Oti entered CUNY BA with a near-perfect GPA (which she still maintains) and 24 credits earned in Advanced Placement exams from high school.

Oti has developed two ambitious areas of study, covering undergraduate and graduate level work in Anthropology, Geography, Community Health, Sociology, and Environmental and Occupational Health Science.  Her CUNY coursework is being done at Hunter and City Colleges, through City and Brooklyn Colleges she has done several study abroad programs, in Iceland, Barbuda, and Costa Rica.  Her summer trips to Iceland and Barbuda (sister island to Antigua) were done as a member of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program in Historical Ecology led by Brooklyn College professor Dr. Sophia Perdikaris.  She wrote about her Iceland experience here http://www1.ccny.cuny.edu/prospective/studentsummers/aoti.cfm

As for Barbuda, she worked on the excavation of the “castle” in downtown Codrington helping to reconstruct the site plan and find buried materials (iron, glass, animal bones, etc.). She also assisted the marine biology field school there in learning about the ecology of the Codrington Lagoon.  She had the opportunity to study the marine species in the lagoon, getting to live out part of a childhood dream to be a marine biologist.  She is currently in the process of writing her paper for the REU program, which will be on Iceland, particularly the environmental impact of the Viking settlers to the island.

About her study abroad experiences, Oti says “When I got to college I immediately knew that study abroad would be a part of my college experience. Three years of college and now I am in Puntarenas, Costa Rica completing my junior year spring semester. The program I am enrolled in is sponsored by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC)–of which Hunter and Queen College are apart–and the focus is on Spanish, Ecological, and Latin American Studies. I am in the intensive intermediate language track and for my electives take Tropical Marine Biology and Latin America and Its Cultures.  I chose to study Spanish because my career goal is to work in Latin America addressing public health issues there. This summer I will begin taking a step toward that goal by venturing to the Dominican Republic to use my improved language skills to teach public health education in an orphanage.”  Oti maintains a blog about her Costa Rica experiences which can be found at http://otia1029.tumblr.com/.

Oti received the Truman Scholarship in 2011, a very competitive national scholarship awarded to 60 college juniors each year from a pool of over 600 applicants.